By Jon D. Melegrito
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“AAPIs fear a new round of hate incidents across the country, targeting many vulnerable segments of our community, particularly immigrants and Muslim Americans,” states the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), a national affiliation of five leading civil rights organizations. In response, AAJC has launched a new website to collect and track incidents of hate targeting the AAPI community.
“In the ten days immediately following the election, nearly 900 incidents of hate were reported around the country, including reports that were clearly anti-Muslim, anti-Asian, and anti-immigrant,” said Mee Moua, AAJC president and executive director. “Our community is fearful of a new barrage of attacks. We cannot stay silent when our communities become victims of hate speech or harassment.”
The nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to become Attorney General prompted the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) to launch a strong opposition centered on the Senator’s dismal record on the civil rights of immigrants.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, NCAPA notes today’s “heightened climate, in which hate crimes have spiked and bigotry and xenophobia are being mainstreamed. Now, more than ever, we need a Department of Justice that will protect the civil rights of all Americans. Instead, we have a nominee who has defended a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, who has closely associated himself with the anti-Muslim David Horowitz Freedom Center and Center for Security Policy, and who routinely uses Breitbart—the self-proclaimed ‘platform for the alt-right’—as his media platform.”
NCAPA has also joined a unique partnership of 12 leading national organizations all dedicated to racial equity and racial healing. This coalition acknowledges that there are still deep racial divisions in America that must be overcome. It’s goal is “to come together to heal and commit to truth telling, engaging representatives from all racial, ethnic, religious and identity groups in genuine efforts to increase understanding, communication, caring and respect for one another."
This healing process, NCAPA Exec. Director Chris Kang points out, “will require each individual and each community to reach beyond their comfort zone and beyond what they think they understand. To be open to learning the histories, the hopes, and the concerns of people of different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. To seek their truths. In doing so, we will learn that no one benefits from a hierarchy of human value--regardless of where we might fall in that false narrative--and embark on a path toward transformation.”
In the face of the Trump’s administration's proposal to deport millions of undocumented individuals, immigrant rights groups are bracing for legal and political battles that will most surely unfold. Already threatened is the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, a program set up by executive action by President Obama in June 2012. Under the DACA program, certain undocumented individuals who came to this country before the age of 16 are provided temporary relief from deportation and employment authorization.
Annie Wang, a staff attorney of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) said: "Although the future of the 2012 DACA initiative is uncertain at this time, AALDEF will provide free consultations to Asian immigrant youth who are seeking to renew their deferred action and work authorization under the original DACA program. We also plan to offer legal screenings to individuals who would have qualified for the new DACA to determine if other forms of relief are available to them."
The Women’s March on Washington in January has indeed galvanized a movement, putting Trump on notice that the overwhelming majority of Americans are fighting back, that they are not going away.